Thursday, January 31, 2013

She Also Has a Left Hook

I have about decided that Laura is a lefty, just like her Grandpa Larry. She very consistently colors and eats left-handed, and does both deftly. Somehow this does not surprise me, as she appears to be very interested in forging her own path and doing things her way.

I fear she may also be honing her boxing skills. Yesterday I toured a preschool, and foolishly listened to the school director's assurance that I could bring Laura with me. She deliberately pulled down toys (most of which had many, many pieces), had to be forcibly restrained from eating one of the classes' snacks, and tried her best to destroy students' art and school work. Worst of all, however, came toward the end of the tour. There were two other parents on tour (both of them first-timers, btw), one of whom had also brought her little girl. It seemed Laura and this little one were getting along fairly well, so much so that the mom and I joked that perhaps they could be placed in the same class. I turned my attention to examine the carpool space and heard the tour guide say, "Oh, gentle!" I turned around to find Laura repeatedly attempting to kick the little girl, all the while swinging her arms wildly in the attempt to hit her as well. The defiant look on her face told me she knew exactly what she was doing, too.

I really wonder if they revoke preschool acceptances. Perhaps I should be pursuing martial arts training instead.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

As I Predicted

I considered titling this post "I Told You So," but then I realized it should really be "I Told Me So," and that just doesn't have the same ring to it. It's a humble, unglamorous existence, being a mom, so maybe that's why we cling to being right so tenaciously...even if it's about something we didn't necessarily want to get right.

So. That time I mentioned Laura would probably figure out how to remove the darling mural above her crib before her second birthday? Check. While I didn't snap a picture of it until today, rest assured she started weeks ago. Most often this is a nap time activity, with possibly some 3 a.m. overtime thrown in (she had to have been doing something while she was belting out one of her music class ditties last night at this very hour).

Behold the work in progress:

Also note the smirk.

I realize you can't tell, but the fox has been ripped in half and reapplied. The owls are long gone, along with several flowers, leaves and possibly a bird. It's still acceptable decor right now, but I'm thinking I need to draft a replacement plan soon. Or have her sleep in a straight jacket.

Meanwhile, she is also still very attached to her Crocs. As far as she's concerned, they are perfectly acceptable winter wear. Just look how they pair with a fleece ensemble and hat:

It would appear that I am not winning too many battles, so let's hope the war fares better.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Basement: Before

When Tim and I first moved from our cramped Chicago condo to the spacious suburbs of Atlanta, we couldn't get over how much space we had in our brand-new house. With five bedrooms and just one two-year-old, we figured we were set forever. Even though the basement was unfinished - who needed that kind of space, other than for storage?

Fast-forward eight years and add two more kids, and surprise, surprise, our perspective has changed! Yesterday the construction crew arrived, and for the next four to five weeks (so we've been promised, anyway), we will hear the dulcet sounds of hammers, saws and air compressors as they transform this space:

This will become a workout space for us, but could easily be a bedroom as well.

The general/playroom for big kids that promises space to safely construct Legos without the wrath of Laura nearby.

A family TV room where we can watch movies without the entire house being forced to listen.

A full bathroom on the way.

Quincy is going a little nuts, listening to the workers while being forbidden to join them. These weeks may be the longest for him.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Extreme Bragging Ahead: Proceed with Caution

Last week, Clare's teacher called me two days in a row. It is highly unusual for me to receive phone calls from teachers. In fact, the only other one I've ever received was at the end of Clare's first week of Kindergarten, when her teacher called me simply to compliment me on my child. Now, I know my eldest well enough that when her teacher identified herself on the phone, I figured it wouldn't be about horrible grades or rude behavior. Still, I felt puzzled. Turns out call #1 was to inform me that Clare had been voted by her fellow classmates as their Peacemaker, to be honored at the annual Peacemaker Mass which celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. She made a point of telling me how much Clare really deserved this award, which of course is a lovely thing to hear. I have already learned over the years that teachers really love Clare - but that doesn't always translate to being well-liked or respected by fellow students. So an award bestowed by your peers is a special thing unto itself.

Ready for the geography bee.
Chatting with the big kids before the bee.
Her teacher mentioned that it should be kept a surprise. So, when Clare came home and reported that they had voted on Peacemakers that day, I kept quiet. She mentioned that she'd like the award, but told me who she had voted for and why - and seemed horrified when I jokingly asked her if she had voted for herself. It's sometimes too easy to mess with my sweet girl.

The next afternoon I got another call, this time telling me that Clare had advanced to the school's final round of the geography bee: only 10 students, grades 4-8. Now, I already knew about this because Clare had come home glowing with the news the previous afternoon. Her teacher figured I probably already knew, but wanted to make sure that I was aware I could attend. She also took the opportunity to tell me how delighted she was that Clare was in this competition because, "She's SO smart, and SO humble, and SO sweet." Can you ask for a better combination?
The proud group of Peacemakers.
To recap, Clare acquitted herself well in the geography bee, particularly as the youngest participant. In other words, she wasn't the first contestant eliminated! [Side, non-bragging note: I brought Laura to this event, to which she brought her "A" Class Clown game. Thank heavens Clare still finds her adorable. I learned that we're finished bringing Laura to events.] She was visibly but humbly delighted to win the Peacemaker award, and two of her dear friends were clearly and genuinely very happy that she received it. Then, to top everything off, she came home with a report card that puts her on the Principal's Honor Roll (all 95s and above).

Celebratory fro yo.
Tim picked her up from swim practice last night and opened with, "So, I hear you had a big day today?" Our Clare stayed right in character, responding, "Yes! I got frozen yogurt!" That's our girl, and we truly could not be more proud.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Terribly Terrific

I can't decide if my memory is just short, or if Laura really is more two than Clare or Danny ever were? As Donna recently remarked, "Her big sister may have worn underwear on her head, but Laura has her beat in terms of being a character!"

On the one hand, she is ridiculously inconsistent. She and I got into a certifiable screaming match about which shirt she was going to wear a few days ago. I wasn't trying to choose for her, mind you, simply have her make a selection. She loudly, angrily kept switching back and forth between two choices until I finally shouted, "That's enough!," slammed the drawer shut and wrestled her into one of them. After which she was perfectly pleasant, naturally.

"No!" remains an all-time favorite answer to any question, and lately she has taken to saying "No, ma'am!" to anyone she feels is in the wrong, including Quincy. At the same time, she usually remembers to say "No, thank you" if she doesn't want something and "Yes, please" when she does. She has also started saying "That's so silly!" and proclaiming "Mommy, so yummy!" when she eats something she likes. Oh, and we are in the thick of "Mommy, look! Daddy, look! Clare, look! Danny, look!" So, I now officially have three children vying for my attention in the most blatant of ways.

Six Flags really has nothing on parenthood.

Monday, January 7, 2013


It was an agonizing decision, the design on Laura's second birthday cake. Two months ago I had it locked in my mind: Curious George. Watching "oooh oooh, ahh ahh" was a highlight of her day. Then, a month ago, she discovered The Little Einsteins, a.k.a. "Steins" - which is exactly what Danny used to call them when he was similarly obsessed. So I wondered: Should I recreate the Rocket cake I baked for him, lo these 4.5 years ago? I didn't relish the idea, but she really likes her Steins. Danny suggested I have Curious George flying Rocket, which was a creative variation. Still, I hemmed and hawed over it.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, Laura took to bursting into "Frosty the Snowman" at random intervals. I decided what better reason to capitalize on an early January birthday, not to mention that it's easier to create in frosting. We made the mistake of mentioning her cake, and pending (belated) celebration, a few days early, so we heard lots of "Frosty cake? Frosty cake?" well before it was actually time. Nevertheless, when the time finally arrived, she was delighted.
Before cake and presents, however, we made a family trip to the aquarium to see "fishes and whales." She thoroughly enjoyed this, sporting a hair style that for me echoed Clare's hair on her second birthday visit to the Legoland - but which, according to Danny, made her "look like a Viking." He might have a point.
While we did not opt for the Steins cake, we did go with a fabulous, you-probably-only-do-this-with-a-third-child move: regifting the Rocket we bestowed on Danny for his second birthday (after retrieving it from a long-term loan to the neighbors). And as we predicted, she loved it! (It should also be noted that this item is no longer for sale, so really we gave her a collector's item.)
We also had balloons, because what toddler doesn't love balloons? Sadly, they almost immediately drifted to the two-story ceiling.

One thing I loved? The fact that for dinner I whipped up a homemade vodka cream sauce for pasta - and it was received well by 4 out of 5 family members (Danny does not care for sauce). This was a new recipe, a feat I never would have attempted on Clare's nor Danny's second (or any) birthday dinners. We've come a long way, baby - especially you, sweet Laura!

Footage of Laura singing "Frosty":

Thursday, January 3, 2013

When You're Two

You can be a serious imp, and repeat "Okay, fine!" over and over until your parent relents and says those very words.
You fully enjoy popcorn and (parts of) a movie (but periodically still request to "watch Steins" instead).
You wander through stores, pronouncing various items of clothing "cute" and becoming particularly enamored of handbags. This is just a little ironic when you insist on staying in your jammies that day.
You get into the action 100% with your bigger counterparts (seen here sweeping out the old year).
 You are still baby enough to fall asleep on your daddy's lap, thereby making his day.